Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant is a fantasy/horror/adventure children's book.
The setting is modern day, with sorcerers and at least some magic creatures hidden in the corners, and the main characters are Stephanie and Skulduggery Pleasant. She is a twelve year old girl who inherits a house and strange business. He is a skeletal-undead, sixgun-toting sorcerer detective. They fight crime. More precisely, they try to find out who murdered Stephanie's uncle. Occasionally they commit crime, too, but who cares?
The real action starts when Stephanie is almost killed by someone breaking into her late uncle's house in search for something. Mr Pleasant saves her, and what with him having blown the door off the hinges, she attaches herself to him for protection and curiosity. The case develops from "let's try to solve a murder" to "we gotta save the world!", including super-powerful magic items, ancient evil cultists and whatnot.
It takes some suspension of disbelief, particularly when it comes to "wait, who in their right mind would drag a 12 year old girl into a break-in when the guards are vampires who definitely are NOT pacifist and sparkly?!", or that one big point in favour of paper-golems may be that they are easily destroyed. On the plus side, at least the book addresses the question of what the parents think of their daughter going off adventuring, by providing a double.
The plot has some nice twists and there are interesting characters to be met - and some of them besides Stephanie are female, too.
What really makes the book enjoyable for me is the dialogue - quite a bit of banter. I forgive a lot of shortcomings, including the few tropes this one employs, if a book is fun to read.
Well, I posted my favourite bit, with the missing front door, already, so have another little sample.
"They're vampires," Skulduggery said. "The Vault has vampire security guards."
Stephanie made a show of poking her head out of the window and looking up at the sky. "The sun's still out, Skulduggery. It's still bright."
"Doesn't matter to them."
She frowned. "Doesn't sunlight kill them? Doesn't it turn them to dust, or make them burst into flames or something?"
"Nope. Vampires tan, just like you and me. Well, just like you. I tend to bleach."
Maybe not the best, but pretty short.
All in all, enjoyable entertainment I've re-read already.
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